Michigan City Takes Down Huge Cross on Public Property

For as long as anyone can remember, the city of Grand Haven has put up a giant cross on Dewey Hill (public property) near Lake Michigan at certain times of the year, but the city council has now decided to remove it permanently after some people I know threatened a lawsuit to force its removal. It will now be turned into an anchor, which seems appropriate to me.

The Grand Haven City Council has voted to turn the large cross on Dewey Hill into an anchor after disputes about having the religious symbol on city property.

For decades, the cross has stood on Dewey Hill overlooking the Grand River for about 15 days out of each year: 10 Sundays every summer and three to five days over the Easter weekend.

It has been at the center of several debates over the past few months because the property is city-owned, and cross is maintained by the city. Monday, the city council voted 3-2 to turn the 48-foot-tall cross into an anchor and limit access to the property.

Opponents were prepared to sue the city over the cross. Brian Plescher said he and other people who wanted the cross to come down planned to file the preliminary paperwork to sue within the month. He said he had talked to attorneys Tuesday, and as long as the city follows through with its decision, there won’t be any need to file the suit.

“We’ll remain vigilant and continue to monitor the situation and go that route again if we need to,” Plescher said.

The council had little choice. Because the property is government-owned and so is the cross, this was undoubtedly government speech and therefore a violation of the Establishment Clause. Their only alternative was to try to turn it into a limited public forum and allow others to put up their own symbols, but they were already concerned about erosion on what is essentially a sand dune overlooking the lake. They decided to eliminate the cross and all displays on the hill instead.

The comments on the article are pretty much exactly what you’d expect, full of ignorance and assertions of Christian privilege.

Scott Maka – Correct me if I am wrong, but is not the Cross an almost Universal Symbol of All Religion? Maybe we can look forward to the “G” word going the same route as the “N” word. Then we can finally, ” All just get along”.

Okay, Scott, I’ll correct you. You’re wrong. The cross isn’t a symbol even of other Abrahamic religions, much less “all religion.”

1gunner – The cross actually symbolizes our country’s heritage – history and our founding documents and even traditions dictate that – the whole ‘separation of church and state’ isn’t even in the Constitution – it’s simply the words of Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists saying that one denomination should not have precedence over another denomination in regards in regards to government affairs. Pretty sorry day that many do not know history or this country’s heritage…Sad to see it’s removal.

*yawn* Same stupid rhetoric you hear all the time. The same guy, when challenged to show which “public documents” (his claim) supported his position, said:

No it’s not – and the Declaration of Independence is just one. Look at our Founding Fathers, Federalist Papers, our first Chief Justice, court cases in those years, and the list goes on and on. What, you think that Christian Churches and the crosses in Arlington National Cemetery just blossomed out of thin air around the country by chance – LOL!!!..pretty amused and saddened at the lack of this nation’s history and heritage. Pretty shameful indeed. This nation was never intended to be ‘secular’ or ‘Godless’ – my how ignorant you are. Go ahead an creep back into your bubble of fantasy LOL!

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  • abb3w

    Secularists should still keep an eye on this; there’s apparently a group organizing on Facebook who are trying to raise money to buy the property as a way around the Church/State separation requirement. If it’s tried, secularists need to make sure there is a competitive bidding process used and submit a competing bid.

  • http://www.ranum.com Marcus Ranum

    The local county courthouse has a bunch of goddist crap on display outside of it, including a version of Cecil B. DeMille’s 10 commandments. Ugh. When you get to small town ‘murrica, this shit’s all over the place.

  • John Pieret

    What, you think that … the crosses in Arlington National Cemetery just blossomed out of thin air

    Actually, the non-Christian symbols in military cemeteries are quite numerous:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Department_of_Veterans_Affairs_emblems_for_headstones_and_markers

    If the city wants to own and maintain a cross, it would have to put up quite a few symbols (of equal size, of course) in order not to be establishing a favored religion … including atheist and humanist symbols.

  • http://www.thelosersleague.com theschwa

    “the Cross an almost Universal Symbol of All Religion”

    No, I think you mean mathematics. Or at least the addition part of math.

  • grumpyoldfart

    The anchor looks like the same old cross with a hook on the bottom. Christians will tell each other they’ve gained a secret victory.

  • Big Boppa
  • Big Boppa

    This is not a victory for our side.

    The anchor is also a xian symbol – just not as common as the cross. I seriously doubt that the people behind this in New Haven don’t know that and think they’ve gotten the last laugh.

  • Katie Anderson

    The reason they’re going with an anchor is because they already have the stuff to turn it into one – they do it every year for the Coast Guard Festival.

  • Sastra

    John Pieret #3 wrote:

    Actually, the non-Christian symbols in military cemeteries are quite numerous

    Interesting link. That’s a lot of symbols.

    It looks strange though that the atheist symbol is the logo for American Atheists organization. I wonder how long it will be before a more generic and universal atheist symbol (hint: see gravatar beside me) makes it onto the tombstones.

  • whheydt

    Strikes me that they were in an even weaker position than most towns when this sort of thing comes up, since they only put it up on selected Sundays, and 3-5 days at Easter. No matter how you slice it, the city clearly treated it as a purely religious symbol with no misdirection claims to the contrary.

  • John Pieret

    Sastra:

    I wonder how long it will be before a more generic and universal atheist symbol (hint: see gravatar beside me) makes it onto the tombstones.

    I’d guess it would take only a few (probably less than a hundred) requests to get it approved. Frankly, how many Zoroastrians are there in the US military?

  • skinnercitycyclist

    What, you think that Christian Churches and the crosses in Arlington National Cemetery just blossomed out of thin air around the country by chance

    What these people seem to mean by this is that the headstones of the dead at Arlington are actual crosses, as you can find in American military cemeteries in Normandy (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/69/American_Flag_and_Cross_in_Normandy_American_Cemetery_and_Memorial.jpg), and have never bothered to google Arlington (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ef/Memorial_Day_at_Arlington_National_Cemetery.jpg)

    Someone may correct me, but I believe those in Normandy are maintained by the godless French.